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UP’s first health needs assessment points to aging population, substance abuse as main concerns

Doctor's stethoscope
Cost and access to health insurance was another priority ranked by UP residents in the survey.


The Upper Peninsula Health Departments has published their first ever Community Health Needs Assessment

This 350-page report combines 18 months of research, surveying 5000 households spread over the regions' 15 counties. 


The assessment will serve as an important tool for the entire Upper Peninsula, helping communities evaluate current health needs and plan for the future. 

Dr. Terry Frankovich is the medical director for four of the six local public health departments in the UP. Frankovich spoke with Stateside’s Cynthia Canty to discuss the health issues affecting Upper Peninsula residents and how new data could help generate improvements. 

According to Frankovich, this assessment is intended to help communities identify their biggest health challenges, but she points out two major region-wide themes —  an aging population and substance abuse prevention.

The assessment also indicates the region is facing an enormous opioid epidemic. The UP has the highest rate of neonatal abstinence syndrome in the state and also indicated higher rates of injection drug use and snorting drugs in the region compared to the rest of Michigan. 

While an aging population and substance abuse were two themes researchers pulled from the data, the households surveyed were also asked to rate the health issues they thought to be most important. 

Frankovich said households ranked health insurance —  its costs, copays, deductibles, and an overall lack of health insurance — as a top priority.  She said drug abuse was also listed, as well as unemployment and wages.

“I think again, this ties into the idea of social determinants of health,” Frankovich said. “ You know, health is much broader than, you know, asthma and diabetes. It's really our communities, our workplaces, our homes.”

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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